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Governor’s Address: Market must drive energy costs, not handouts

Protecting our natural resources is a priority. It is also a priority for me to make sure Mainers can afford to live in this great state we call home.

Dear Maine Taxpayer,

Maine’s electricity rates are among the highest in the nation. In fact, we rank number 11 in highest costs. When you see your electricity bill, you should know these rates are artificially high. The reason is what liberals like to call “subsidies” or “stranded costs.”

These subsidies are taxpayer dollars funneled to the solar and wind industry to make sure they do not go bankrupt. Alternative forms of energy are worthwhile, but they are expensive—and you pay the price.

A 2015 study by the Energy Information Administration found that wind is federally subsidized at a rate more than 70 times that of natural gas and oil. Solar is even worse. It is subsidized at more than 340 times the rate of natural gas and oil. This is the highest level of all renewable subsidies.

I have said it once, and I will say it again: I support all forms of renewable energy. However, when electricity rates are increased because of energy like solar and wind, consumers are paying for it twice. On the front end, consumers pay for the government welfare these companies need to stay afloat. On the back end, you pay more in higher electric bills.

Some liberals, such as the Natural Resources Council of Maine, want you to believe we are lagging behind as a producer of renewable resources. Not true. Maine uses only about 10 percent of the electricity in New England, but it is by far the biggest producer of renewable electricity in New England. We produce almost half of the total renewable electricity generated in New England.

Nearly 70 percent of the electricity produced in Maine is from renewable resources. Maine is the leader!

Liberal critics want to promote wind and solar as the only renewable resources. However, it is financially irresponsible to favor expensive solar and wind, while we are making good use of Maine’s indigenous resources—nearly 30 percent of the electricity we generate is from our hydroelectric plants, and another 27 percent comes from biomass.

If anyone in New England wants to pursue solar and wind, I encourage them to do so, but you should not have to pay for it through subsidies or stranded costs.

All forms of renewable energy have a place in the market, as long as they are not overpriced and companies are not living off taxpayer dollars.

Thank You,

Paul R. LePage


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